Open Government Partnership Framework project

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) project is a multi-lateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to advance open government efforts. It has over 70 members including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand.

In November 2015 Australia reaffirmed its commitment to join the OGP. The Minister for Finance, Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann has responsibility for co-ordinating Australia’s involvement in the OGP on behalf of the Prime Minister. He is supported by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Collapsed - Developing the Open Government National Action Plan

Every two years OGP members must work with the public to transparently and publicly ‘co-create’ a National Action Plan.

Cabinet approved Australia’s first Open Government National Action Plan (the Plan) in December 2016. The Plan contains 15 commitments that aim to advance transparency, accountability, participation and/or technological innovation.

Collapsed - The department’s responsibilities

The department has responsibility for implementing commitments 1.3 and 5.2 of the Plan.

Commitment 1.3 implements the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative:

Commitment 5.2 works towards improving public participation and engagement to enhance policy and service delivery outcomes.

Collapsed - Commitment 5.2: Enhancing public participation in government decision making

Commitment 5.2’s key output is to establish a new Australian Government framework for public participation and engagement. The project has three phases which will be delivered using a user-centric design approach of Discover, Create, and Deliver.

Collapsed - Phase 1 – Discover: March 2017 to August 2017

Undertake and publicly release a stocktake of current approaches to public participation to determine best practice activities.

  • Problem identification: interview key stakeholders, review data, literature review, explore opportunities for co-design.
  • Empathise: systems map, stakeholder mapping, user identification and segmentation, ethnographic research.
  • Define: data synthesis, develop design questions.

Collapsed - Phase 2 – Create: September 2017 to February 2018

Work with government agencies, the public and organisations outside of government to develop and implement the whole-of-government framework.

Collapsed - Phase 3 – Deliver: February 2018 to June 2018

Undertake pilot public participation initiatives, including working with the Digital Transformation Agency to more effectively use digital channels for engagement.

Work to date

Update 20 April 2018: Prototyping Framework Workshops

Our Prototype report, which is based on rigorous concept testing workshops is finally here.

The report has our Prototype framework, which is the culmination of hard work, and the ideas generated by APS and civil society members in response to the design questions outlined in our Discover report

The Prototype includes a number of components:  guiding principles, a standard that establishes a common expectation, an articulation of the ways to engage, initiatives that support meeting this expectation, a capability and resourcing backbone to drive the framework, digital solutions and feedback loops.

The prototype is not perfect, rather it presents a possibility that is to be tested and iterated with APS and civil society members. Indeed, the next steps for us is to further test the components of the prototype framework with public servants and civil society. To this end we are currently holding workshops in Canberra and Sydney. The prototype is also on Dialogue, the Department’s online deliberation platform, for further testing and refinement of the prototype.

Based on feedback we will then refine the prototype and seek volunteers to test it live with a small number of agencies.

The project team is happy to hold a Prototype testing workshop with any interested participants – contact


Collapsed - Update 19 February 2018: Concepts Report + Prototyping Framework Workshop

Drawing on the findings from the project’s Discover phase, a number of Ideation workshops were held to generate ideas on what the framework could include. Thank you to all those who participated in one of our Ideation workshops. Both public servants and civil society were represented at the workshops. In all, nearly 400 ideas were brainstormed.

The nearly 400 ideas generated have been synthesised into 17 Concepts – detailed initiatives and plans to improve public participation in the APS. These include establishing an Engagement Hub, a Citizens’ Panel and an APS Engagement Snapshot.

Concepts report |  

These concepts were shared with users (public servants and the public), and tested and refined in workshops to ensure they are robust enough to warrant further scrutiny, and improve their chances of implementation. So far, eight workshops have been held with 70 APS staff and members of the public. Keep an eye out, because the Concepts will soon be available on Dialogue, the Department’s online deliberation platform, to raise awareness and for further testing and refinement. This is your chance to have your say within the comfort of your desk!!

Next steps include developing a prototype framework based on feedback gathered from the Concepts, and sharing it with all of you and the rest of the APS!

The project team is always happy to come and talk with people about the work, take ideas or discuss what we have learnt and how that can be applied in your next engagement. If you are interested, do email us at


Collapsed - Update: Discover phase Report “Hidden in Plain Sight” published! + Create phase workshops and presentations underway

Report publication: We are pleased to announce that the Discover phase report is complete:

The Discover Report’s name is “Hidden in Plain Sight: Building an understanding of how the Australian Public Service can unlock community expertise to improve policy, programmes and service delivery.” It introduces how public participation can help reduce the complexity of policy, programmes and service delivery, and build trust in government. It then explores why public servants do not make use of more and better participation in their work, detailing the outcomes of our user research and stocktake of APS public participation. Drawing on these findings, it concludes by identifying opportunities for solutions to improve APS participation, to be drawn on during the projects Create (solution development and prototyping—see below) phase.

The Report provides an inspiring and comprehensive business case to improve public participation in the APS.

In particular, we encourage you to read the user research. We believe it is an original and interesting contribution to the literature on public participation. It also provides special insights into the culture and operations of the APS, and how engagements work in practice, which are likely applicable in other contexts. It is the culmination of 75 interviews with 38 public servants from 13 different agencies; and 42 members of the public from 29 organisations, including business, engagement practitioners, academia, the community sector and peak bodies. It is also supported by a stocktake of current engagement practices in the APS.

Other useful resources from the Report are:

  • Good practice participation case studies, that provide context for our findings and inspiration.
  • Review of valuable publications and views on participation from senior public servants, practitioners, thought leaders and academics; and
  • Personas representing users in the APS and the public, that can help public servants empathise with their users when they are planning and undertaking engagement.

Create phase: Workshops + Presentations on report: We are running presentations across the APS on the Hidden in Plain Sight report, to share its findings and ensure it resonates with public servants.

The project team is happy to come and talk with people, present the Report’s findings, take ideas or discuss what we have learnt and how that can be applied in your next engagement. If you are interested, do email us at

We are also running Ideation workshops. In these, we draw on the Hidden in Plain Sight findings to brainstorm a volume of ideas that can improve APS engagement.

We will then refine and narrow down into Concepts (detailed ideas to improve engagement that can become components of the framework); and test these as we build a prototype framework.

Collapsed - Update: 10 August 2017. Resource for information: Literature review we drew on in developing our work.

Our work (including our draft Discover phase report) has drawn on a range of sources about public participation. 

We have received feedback from the public that more transparency about the information and data public servants rely on in developing policy and programmes would improve public participation. It can help the public understand the assumptions we are relying on and facilitate co-creation.

As such, we are releasing our working Literature Review to the public in draft form, noting that it is a living document that will be subject to further iteration. Besides assisting co-creation, we hope it can be a useful reference for persons interested in public participation.

We may have quoted some of your work. Obviously we bring our own interpretive lens to it, but if we haven’t perfectly represented or interpreted publications you have produced, please let us know and we will correct the record ( Any mistakes are totally unintentional and we apologise in advance for any misunderstandings. We have a busy schedule and are still building up our knowledge of the subject matter.

Collapsed - Update 14 July 2017: Working draft/in progress Discover report available for comment

We now have a working draft Discover phase report. It sets out our project methodology and research findings from the Discover Phase’s Problem identification stage. We intend it to be the first of a series of working draft documents we share with the public.

  • View thedraft Discover phase report.

In the interests of transparency and co-creation this report is being released to the public in draft form, noting that further iteration of the content is needed. Square bracketed sections in the document indicate holding space for new content, for instance, data from user research with public servants and members of the public.

The structure and main content of the report will appear in the Discover phase’s final report, subject to iteration. The content provides a summary with examples of what we’ve discovered through our literature review and initial stakeholder engagement. It will inform the Empathise stage and Create phase.

Submit feedback

We invite your comments on the draft report. With your assistance we can build a richer understanding of the problems we need to solve to improve public participation in Australia.

We’d also like to hear from you if you have any comments on the way your work has been incorporated into the report.

Preliminary findings

  • Public participation is a spectrum of ways citizens and their representatives are brought into policy and programmes from the least deliberation (information dissemination) to the most deliberation (decision making).
  • Public participation that involves co-creation and decision-making has great potential to improve public services.
  • Other jurisdictions, especially local governments, do more co-creation and decision making initiatives than the APS.
  • Changing public service culture and improving capability will be crucial for long term success.
  • We should aspire to be as open as we can. There’s great potential for co-creation and it will improve the legitimacy of our work.
  • Picking the right kind of public participation for the right problem is crucial, including for political buy-in.

How you can contribute

We will post our recent work on this site. We want to design this framework with you, so please provide your views and share your expertise with us.

If you have an idea, case study, useful publication or would like to be involved in a workshop or other event, please email

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